Hello everyone! First of all I would like to give thanks to all who contribute to such a wonderful site, the information has been hugely helpful for me so far. I have a few questions that havent been exactly covered or at least I havent found them. Here we go!
So I am now undertaking the wonderful journey of chocolate. I have aspirations to go all the way to bean to bar production, go down south and find my favorite little farm, have baths in cacao liqueur and eat chocolate every day forever and ever :)
However, I have chosen to just start out working with raw paste (i will be making mostly raw chocolate but am not limiting myself), melting down, working my recipes, tempering on stone and molding bars for sale.
Question set number 1:
Is working with paste a good way to start? Is the raw paste available from most distributors already melanged enough for commercial grade chocolate?? I will be using honey and maple syrup for sweeteners (which im hoping are shelf stable) so i dont think I will need a melanger for breaking down the sugar particles.
Question set number 2:
Does anyone have any opinion on bars?? Have you noticed people preferring bigger bars (100g +) or smaller (+-50g) in general. Im thinking of hitting about the 75g range so the bars arent too pricey and still big enough to enjoy a full chocolate experience.
Question set number 3:
Who makes the best molds around for bars?? Where is the best place to look for packaging materials in Canada? Im going to go with foil and paper as it seems to be the easiest.
Question set number 3:
Will I get more shelf life, creamier texture if I use sunflower lecithin?
Many thanks!! I am aiming to get the company off the ground asap and am super thankful for any feedback.
This will probably be the most valuable feedback anyone can provide you, given the nature and context of your questions: "Do a LOT more research before starting your business. You know absolutely nothing about chocolate."
There is a wealth of information on this site, and www.ChocolateAlchemy.com which will answer your questions (and then some), and give you the foundation you need to have at least a small prayer of hope in success.
Thanks for your insight.
I may be early in my development and some of the questions might not have validity in their thinking, however some do and to say "do more research" is somewhat deadendish in its support. I am doing more research continually and this is part of my research. Any insight into what I asked would be much appreciated.
I will check out chocolate alchemy and see what more I can find.
Thank you kindly :)
Ok... to avoid posting repetitive answers, my suggestion would be to read the many many many contributions on this and Chocolate Alchemy's site. They will answer all of your questions, and eliminate the need for redundant postings.
While Brad is right that many if not all of your questions will be answered on Chocolate Alchemy as the owner of this site I like to think that members of TheChocolateLife so have something to add that could be unique.
Question Set 1)
If you don't want to go bean to bar yet, your only option is to work from paste and/or butter and/or powder. Many companies in the raw chocolate community got their start this way and continue to work this way. If you use a liquid sweetener or coconut palm nectar you do not need a melangeur to incorporate (grind) the sweetener into the other ingredients. Because of the water in honey, maple syrup, and agave syrup and they are the identical sweetness of cane sugar you will find that tempering is different from chocolate that uses a crystalline sugar and that recipes will differ.
Question Set 2)
The trend is definitely toward lighter-weight bars especially for bars made from expensive ingredients that would otherwise have a very high price point. I've seen them as low as 25gr (Domori) up to the 70-80gr range. What makes sense for your market depends on your cost structure. You can choose the price point - bar weight - based on your cost of goods and cost of manufacturing.
Question Set 3)
If you are looking for custom molds and don't want to spend US$5k or more, you are looking at thermoform molds. I don't who the manufacturers are in Canada. Tomric in Rochester, NY offers a good thermoform mold program and Micelli Brothers (also in New York) is offering a mold program for custom injection polycarbonate molds for small producers at $5000 for 100 molds that includes design, prototypes, and manufacturing, but not shipping.
Question Set 4)
Everyone I know who knows anything about sunflower lecithin says stay away from it in chocolate because it does not have a neutral taste and it will affect the taste of the chocolate negatively. You can get certified GMO-free soy lecithin (if GMO is the issue, not allergies. Lecithin will improve the workability and texture of conventional chocolate. As you are looking at sweeteners with a very high water content, I am not sure what the outcome will be.
Your first paragraph implies that I failed to credit the content of this site. That's not true. I credited this site equally. by referring to ".....THIS AND Chocolate Alchemy's site."
Thank you very much Clay. This is what I was hoping to hear from a forum. I have spent many hours on forums and although it is wise to link people to already worked information it is also wise to just help someone out who has multiple/slightly specific questions. So thanks for the reply.
Im going to pick up some sunflower lecithin and just give it a go (using a very small amount) as im sure the market around here, Coastal BC, will be turned away by the word soy no matter how non GMO it is. Some companies seem to be working with it with no problem so I will do my rounds of testing. As the sweeteners are watery im hoping the lecithin will bind with the water enough to ease tempering ability.
Many thanks, I will repost what I come up with to give further insight into the journey.
Lecithin doesn't bind with water. In the case of chocolate it's not an emulsifier (something I have already written about in another post, so here I go again repeating myself needlessly because you choose not to do any homework).
For those interested in making QUALITY chocolate dark, lecithin isn't even a consideration.
...but then again, what difference does it make what anybody says? You get advice from two very "wise people who just want to help you out" (your term paraphrased, not mine). and then go do what you wanted to do in the first place anyway. Why even bother asking for help?
I mean really.... How hard is it to google "Soy Lecithin" ? The first link that appears is a Wikipedia breakdown of everything you need to know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lecithin
Instead, you are too lazy, and expect people to "just help you out."
I did help you out. A lot.
Given that you aren't going to listen to Clay or myself, I'm sure the next question you're going to ask, is "how come my watery, gummy, chocolate won't temper? Can somebody help me out?"
Nope. Don't think so....
Geesh.... some people....
Dude im not sure why you are so sensitive and harsh but im sure it would be much appreciated by many if you took a little more time to love and be humbled in this life. Your words would go much farther into peoples awareness and your help be welcomed if you shared with more care. Im not going to waste any time refuting or challenging your petty insults and will instead bring up your somewhat helpful advice and see what we can figure out together, cause we are all trying to make awesome chocolate here, arent we??
I only say lecithin binds with water as on chocolate alchemy the administrator on there mentioned it for that specific reason. I cant find the specific quote on his site anymore but further research led me to descriptions on a cosmetics site stating "lecithin is capable to bind water & fats (prevents fat-water separation)"... Which, by definition, is an emulsifier. I imagine thats what the administrator was meaning but didnt lay out a full description. So I guess better to say that it actually binds fat and water, which is why im wondering if that will help the chocolate to temper more easily while using more water based sweeteners??
Many thanks for all the advice fellow chocolatiers.
You might want to read this article. http://www.lecitina.it/pdf/Lecithins%20in%20the%20Chocolate%20and%2...
Thanks for the reference materials.
It is a little confusing because chocolate is not technically an emulsion but a suspension or dispersion so while lecithin in an emulsifier does it act as an emulsifier when it's not used in an emulsion?
Free water does play a role, and lecithin works, in part, by reducing the surface tension between any water in the suspension and the rest of the ingredients. The physics and chemistry is a lot more complicated than that, of course.
Evan - as for the question in the last paragraph you'll have to test it out for yourself. Using liquid sweeteners is not common in chocolate and most of the people I know who do use liquid sweeteners do not use lecithin.
Have you ever heard the phrase "Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." ?
It's pretty cliche', I know.
In my first reply to you, I "taught you how to fish" by pointing you in the direction of a wealth of fabulous advice and contribution from respected professionals all over the world - resources that I myself have used many times on my path of making chocolate.
Your reply was in essence "I don't wanna do the work. Just feed me."
THEN... after getting advice from someone else, you publicly opted to ignore it and wrote that you're going to do your own thing anyway.
I spend a heck of a lot of time helping people NICELY on this site and others - time that I don't earn a single dime for. In many regards it's my way of giving back to the community as a whole - a community that has helped my business become successful.
What I take issue with (and have no problem vocalizing it) is when people ask me to spoon feed them information under the premise of "just being nice". My answer is what you got: "I showed you where to find the answer, now stop being so freaking lazy, and look it up."
But then again, maybe I should be silent and LET you go down the path of making crappy chocolate. After all I'll be opening up a store out in Victoria in the next year or so. It wouldn't be good business to assist a competitor.
I hope that clarifies my "sensitivity" as you so put it. I'll be sure to include a rainbow in my next post just to make you feel better.